"NOOOOOO!" The scream wrenched from Eamonn's heart, as Eoin died in his arms, traveled through time and space and through the centuries.


"NOOOOOO!" James Ellison sat straight up in bed, screaming. His arms were wrapped around his pillow, which was clasped to his chest. But Ellison did not see a pillow, he saw a man in his arms, a man with bloodied brown curls and a name escaped his lips....Eoin.


Eoin. Blair.

Sweat covered Jim's body, his bed soaked. The dream so real that he could still smell the blood. Feel the warm body grow cold in his arms.

Need to find Blair's heartbeat. Nothing. Where?

He jumped from his bed, took the stairs two at a time and skidded to a stop in front of the french doors....His hand was reaching for the knob when Blair spoke from behind.

"Jim? What's wrong, man?"

Sandburg stood there, towel around his waist, another towel around his neck, the end being lightly rubbed against long, wet hair.

Jim dropped his hand...."I couldn't hear yo...anything, Chief."

Concern immediately replaced puzzlement.

"Your senses? Let me get dressed and we'll talk about it, okay?"

"No, just...for a minute...couldn't hear...".

"And now?"

"No problem, back to normal."

"Alright Jim."

Sandburg walked past him and into his room and closed the door.

There. Again. It had happened again. Sandburg, letting go. Not pushing him. A frequent habit since returning from Sierra Verde almost a month ago now.

Frowning, Jim walked into the bathroom, a completely clean bathroom. No soggy towels, no puddles, no hair in any drain...the complete antithesis of the room after hurricane Blair. But the norm of late. Like the loft. Clean, every minute of every day. Since they'd returned from Sierra Verde.

Blair had returned to the loft. Jim had made sure that all his stuff had been put back into place before leaving Sierra Verde...a simple phone call to Joel took care of that. But you would never know it by how the place looked.

If Blair was eating in the loft? There was no sign. Working? Grading papers? Watching television? Reading a book, the papers?

No sign. He didn't even keep his jackets on the hooks by the door. There hadn't been a single shared meal here at the loft since their return, shared meals at work, yes, but not here. No take-out, no cooking, nothing. And it was tearing Ellison apart. His friend was gone. And he was responsible and didn't have a clue how to go back, how to get him back.

He wanted the old, "messy, talk-a-mile-a-minute, push Ellison until he cracks" Sandburg. Not this Sandburg. Jim gazed around the spotless bathroom. No, not this Sandburg, he didn't know this Blair... Oh, this Blair argued, fought with everyone about anything...This Blair was passionate, vocal, even fiesty and pushy as all get out. Just not around Jim Ellison.

With Jim Ellison, Sandburg was quiet, tidy and did his level best to fade into the background. Around Jim Ellison, he rarely spoke and deferred to Jim in everything.

Jim looked at his reflection in the mirror. Older, with new lines and new fears. When had his life started spinning out of control?

He was free-falling and had no parachute. His parachute was broken. And he didn't know how to fix him.

As he showered and shaved, the dream came back...the boy, he could feel the boy's body next to his own, even now. He could see the beautiful eyes, the love in them, love for him. And he could see the life, the light, leave them. A dream that wasn't a dream. Should he tell Blair? It wasn't like it was before, was it? And how could a dream seem more real than holding Blair's body at the fountain? It was a god - damn - dream.

Jim Ellison gave one last look at his reflection, and wished fervently that he could cry. Not even at the fountain, had he been able to cry. To feel the cleansing liquid, to let go. But he couldn't. And the voice...haunting...asking him to remember...and the fear.


Later in the day

Blair wandered down Ralston Street, enjoying the unusual warmth of the winter day and these few precious moments of peace and freedom. Freedom from pretending.

Since their return from Sierra Verde he'd been confused, disoriented and for the first time in his life, unsure of his place in the world. He knew he should move out...should never have moved back in....but, he was selfish. The idea of leaving Jim....no, he'd rather stay, knowing it was wrong, than be without him. It was pathetic, totally pathetic. And he was paying the price.

God, he was so afraid. Afraid to say the wrong thing, to call attention to himself, for fear that Jim would react, ask him to leave.

And it was torture, he was feeling so much now...dying did that to you...and he wanted to celebrate, to share so much with Jim...from the moment they'd talked in the hospital and shared the vision...But then Jim left for Sierra Verde, without telling him.

The rollercoaster that had become his life, the ride that he had come to love, had taken a seriously wrong turn and was now out of control. Crash and burn time, folks. Because he'd followed Jim to Sierra Verde. And found out just how little Jim needed him and how little he meant to Jim.

He wasn't angry with Jim, not his fault, not at all. Jim had faced his most difficult test and had passed...with flying colors. And selfish Blair had been forced to see that Jim could do it, had done it, without him, without his guide. Guide my foot. The one time Jim had asked for his help he'd been unable to give it...even if he'd had the knowledge he wouldn't have been able to call it forth...the shock of seeing Jim on the beach with Alex, in her arms.

God, the pain. Again, he didn't blame Jim. Alex was part of the test, Blair was certain of that. But still...she was a woman. And a sentinel. Both of which Blair could never be. That was it in a nutshell. On his knees in that temple, watching Jim try to save one of his own...kissing her. The knife in Blair's gut went deep. He was jealous. He'd felt it, there in the Temple. Blair Jacob Sandburg was jealous of Alex Barnes.

So here he was, clinging, holding on to something he could never have...trying to stay in Jim's life....actually wishing he could fix Alex, give her to him...God, he was pathetic.

Need to focus on something else. Ralston Street. A unique street, lots of strange shops, his favorite street in Cascade, the home of his favorite bookstore...Cathay's. Unique books, like the one he'd just picked up...a book on Celtic legends and druids.

Window shop, that would do the trick...forget himself for awhile. Only on Ralston would you actually find a shop called "The Spell Shoppe", you know? For casting spells. Yep, casting spells...why not? Maybe a love potion? Blair actually laughed at himself for that one. But he went inside.

Now this would have pleased Naomi no end. Shelves of exotic powders, spices, herbs. He began to search...eye of newt, the place had to have eye of newt...no decent spell without it.

Blair continued to wander the aisles, enjoying himself. On his left, next to the window was a beautiful antique curio cabinet....on the middle shelf rested a beautiful bracelet. Two silver bands with a wolf in the center.

"That's a lovely piece you're looking at...very old."

Blair turned to the voice and faced a woman, of maybe sixty, with lovely green eyes and red hair, now peppered with gray. She was holding out her hand.

"I'm Maggie O'Brian and I own this establishment."

"Blair Sandburg."

They shook hands and she took out a key, opened the cabinet and removed the bracelet.

"There is a wonderful legend attached to this particular piece, that's why it's here. Magic, you know."

She handed the bracelet to Blair. He took it and was immediately disappointed. Too big.

"It's a circlet. In ancient Ireland the men wore them here." She touched his upper arm.

Relief flooded over him but was immediately dampened by the thought of the cost.

"I'd be willing to give you an excellent deal, if you will take them both?"

Both? And that was the second time she'd answered his unspoken concerns.

Blair waited and she smiled.

"I see we understand each other, kindred spirits. Follow me."

They went into the back room where she pulled out a drawer, took out a velvet cloth, unwrapped it and revealed what had to be the companion piece to the one Blair still held in his hand. Only this circlet was different, instead of a wolf, the design in the center was a jaguar. Blair was stunned. Without realizing it, he had put out his hand. Maggie dropped the circlet into his open palm, next to the other.

Blair was not prepared for the shock that coursed through him as the two circlets touched.

"They are believed to have been created and worn by a "Faith"."

"A druid? But this design is a jaguar, an animal never seen by a druid."

"Except in a vision, perhaps? This particular faith was said to be the one, who when conjoined with another, would bring Ireland together and drive off all invaders."

"I've done some study of druids and the legends surrounding them, but I've never come across this particular story."

"Does the name, Naoise, mean anything to you?"

"Of course, the first druid to embrace Christianity. He left Erin and went about the world...supposedly gave up his magic."

There was more Blair knew, such as his name mentioned by Sir Richard Burton, as having traveled the world with a sentinel.

"It is believed that Naoise was taking the young faith to Calbair Con Ri for his initiation, but tragedy struck and the young man was killed by a Roman named Laetes, who believed that by possessing the young man, he could have unlimited magic and power...would actually see the great eye."

Blair's head jerked up at the mention of a "great eye"...Maggie was looking at him with wonder in her eyes.

"Great eye?"

"Today we would say the "Eye of God"...that looking into the eye would forever change you, give you great abilities...enhance

existing abilities...such as the dark magic, practiced by Laetes."

"Why did he kill the boy?"

"That was an accident, supposedly Laetes was trying to kill someone who was interfering in his plans and the faith sacrificed himself."

Blair looked down at the circlets...he had to have them. "How much?"

Maggie had been watching his face as she spoke of the legend and she now made her decision.

"Before I answer, there is something else you must see, it is upstairs in my apartment, would you?"

She indicated a set of stairs behind them, a question in her eyes. Blair nodded and they went up.

Her apartment was lovely but Blair couldn't have later described it to anyone...his attention had been commanded by the sketch that hung on the wall directly opposite the front door.

"It's been in my family for generations. Naoise is said to be the artist. And this is why I'm giving the circlets to you. They are yours."

Blair stood before the sketch, looking into the eyes of himself - at 17. Only...not.

The air around him seemed to shimmer and fall away...sounds changed, smells changed...he could no longer smell the roses in her apartment, now he smelled...horses...men, sweat...and blood. He was occupying space in two worlds...words, images...clashing with each other...a name, a face...a face as well known to him as his own...and not. Jim. Eamonn. A hand reaching for him...words, "I swear."

Another voice broke through, calling him back.

"That is Eoin. Naoise's ward and a faith. You can see the circlets were his and yours."

The struggle back was difficult...he wanted to find that face, the voice...achingly familiar. He refocused on the sketch, on his own eyes...staring back at him...his mouth curved into a half smile, hair shorter, so young....but eyes showing as much age as Blair's showed now - more.

A hand on his shoulder tore his eyes from the picture.

"Blair? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine...I don't know what to say."

"When you walked into my shop, well, I can't explain what I felt...and when you stopped and looked at the circlet....I had to show you this sketch...and give you the circlets....they belong to you."

"No. Only one belongs to me, the other one, belongs to someone else...".

Maggie seemed to understand for she gave a knowing nod.

"You will keep them?"

"Maggie, they are very valuable, I can't possibly afford them."

"Blair, they are not for sale. I am simply returning them to their rightful owner."

It was right. Blair could feel the rightness of it, of them.

"Thank you, I will cherish them."

"And you will see that the other one...gets to its rightful owner, for whom Eoin intended it?"

"Yes, I can do that, I hope." He whispered.

At that moment, Maggie knew that finally the legend would know completion, that her ancestor would know peace.

She reached out to take them, to wrap them but Blair stopped her.

"I'd....like to - wear them?"

Maggie smiled and showed him to her guestbath.

Closing the door, Blair slowly unbuttoned his shirt and set it on the sink. Then he took one circlet, undid the clasp and slipped it on his right bicep. Perfect fit. Then he took the jaguar and like the other slipped it on his left bicep...grateful that the clasp could be adjusted, as this one was clearly the larger of the two.

Right. They felt...right. At home. He stared at the mirror and saw...someone else, standing behind him...Jim? No.


Jim/Eamonn? Eoin/Blair? And fire. A blazing fire...consuming them both....Blair shook his head hard...and returned to the present.

Maggie showed him back downstairs and they hugged as Blair left, he promising to return. But as he took her leave she spoke.

"Blair, don't let him deny you again. There will be no other life. Fight for him. Fight for this life."

Blair could only stare. Then she kissed him on the cheek and pushed him out the door.

Stunned by the afternoon's events, he began the walk home, oblivious to the sights and sounds around him, ignorant of the two men who were even now, following him.

As Blair crossed Seventh Street and the shadows darkened, the two men made their move. Their pace quickened and one of them pulled out a syringe. As they came abreast of Blair they each took an arm.

"Why look here, if it isn't Blair."

And before Blair could react, the taller of the two jabbed the needle into his neck.

A black limo pulled up alongside and Blair's body was lifted into the backseat, the men climbing in behind and closing the door.

The car sped off.


Major Crimes

"Jim? Need you for a minute." Simon stepped aside, holding the door until Jim entered, then he closed it and faced his friend.

"Where's Sandburg?"

"I don't know, Simon. He said something about errands to run. Why? What's wrong?"

"I just received a phone call from Dr. Rutcliff at Camarillo. Alex escaped two days ago."

Jim was stunned. Alex Barnes had been placed in maximum security at Camarillo State Hospital after their return from Sierra Verde. She'd been a vegetable.

"Simon, that's simply not possible, you saw her."

"Oh, I saw her alright and I would certainly have agreed with you if not for the report. According to Dr. Rutcliff, she killed one orderly, seriously injured the psychiatrist treating her and injured two nurses. She's out there and feeling just fine."

"Simon, she isn't here, I'd know if she were. That much I can tell you."

"Do you think she'd go back to Sierra Verde? To the Temple?"

Jim swiped a shaking hand over his eyes.

"God, I don't know. She isn't a sentinel anymore."

"By all that Dr. Rutcliff shared, she was complaining of headaches and screaming that her skin was on fire. To use a Blairphrase, sounds like she's back online to me."

Blair. Would she try anything? Try to hurt him again? No. He'd never been her target. She'd come after him, if she came at all.

Jim's cellphone brought him out of his reverie. He pulled it out of his pocket, fully expecting the caller to be Blair.


<Jim, I'll be waiting at the Temple. I't's not good when two people have unfinished business. And if you have thoughts of not coming? I'm not alone....after all, I have unfinished business with Blair too. Hurry love, hurry.>

She broke the connection.


"Jim? What is it?"

"Alex has Blair. She wants me to meet her at the Temple. You nailed it, Simon."

"I'll make our flight arrangements."


"Our. You got a problem with that?"

"No sir, no problem."

"You feeling - okay?"

Jim knew exactly what Simon was asking but not how to answer.

"Jim, dammit, she has Blair and I for one will not watch him die again. I need to know if there is a problem."

"Simon, no one is going to hurt Blair. No - one."

Part 3